Many can only attempt to imagine the lost of a child - or avoid doing so - but the subject has always been a popular focus for Hollywood. In Rabbit Hole, we get one of the most riveting and realistic explorations of child loss in recent memory. And several incredible performances.
Becca (Nicole Kidman) and Howie (Aaron Eckhart) are a married couple simply trying to deal with the grief of their young kid. Howie wants to address their problems head-on while Becca has her own approach. The friction increases as time goes on as the two struggle to interpret each other's emotions.
Based on the stage play by David Lindsay-Abaire, Rabbit Hole is a movie that relishes in the emotions simmering just below the surface. It's well-written with blistering, supercharged dialogue that becomes weightier as time progresses. In other words, it's this year's Doubt.
Kidman and Eckhart take full advantage of the powerful screenplay by delivering some of the best performances of their careers - and of the year. For Kidman, she is at her best, something we haven't seen since the beginning of the century with The Hours and Dogville. For Eckhart, he by far and away is the best he has ever been.
The supporting cast is also superb. Dianne Wiest, as Becca's mother, delivers a great, nuanced performance, while unknown Miles Teller provides a star-marking turn as the teenager responsible for the child's death.
Despite the subject matter, director John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) avoids driving the audience to suicide with an overly depressing tale. The movie is sad, but it isn't about the loss of a child; it's about dealing with the loss of a child. Rabbit Holes is at times funny, other times distressing, but always measured with a heavy dose of realism.
It's this devotion to realism that both keeps the performances in check and allows them to flourish in the way they do. The picture is never melodramatic; the acting and the characters' actions feel like a snapshot of real life.
Compelling, engaging and powerful, Rabbit Hole is one of the best movies of 2010.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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